The 8 Best Running Shoes For Bad Knees, According To A Podiatrist

They’re stylish, supportive, and shock-absorbing.

by Lauren Moison
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

If your knees tend to get sore when you run, it doesn’t always mean you have to give up running for good — a better pair of shoes may help. When shopping for the best running shoes for bad knees, “look for shoes with good shock absorption, cushioning, support, stability, flexibility, and breathability,” Dr. Gregory Alvarez, DPM, FACFAS, a podiatrist for the Ankle & Foot Centers of America, tells Bustle. And while that may sound like a tall order, there are actually many athletic shoes specifically designed to provide all of those things.

The Expert

Based in Georgia, Dr. Gregory Alvarez attended medical school at the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine before completing his residency at Atlanta Hospital. He’s currently a podiatrist at the Ankle & Foot Centers of America.

What To Look For When Shopping For Running Shoes For Bad Knees

Alvarez explains that two common causes of knee pain are overuse and biomechanical causes, such as misalignment or muscle imbalances. And while it’s important to find the root cause of your pain, the design and style of your shoe can also help minimize the strain.

To protect your joints, Alvarez suggests looking for running shoes that have ample shock absorption and cushioning features like gel or foam insoles and EVA midsoles to help reduce the impact on your knees. He also recommends looking for supportive shoes with stability features, like arch support and reinforced heel counters, to help control overpronation, keep your foot in proper alignment, and reduce strain on knee joints.

Additionally, look for shoes that are made of flexible and breathable materials, like mesh uppers and soles with flex grooves, that’ll allow your foot to move more naturally and help “keep feet cool, dry, and free from blisters which can be a source of knee pain when running.”

In addition to the structure of the shoe, consider which style and design features you’d prefer. There are trail runners for picturesque jogs in the wilderness, long-distance running shoes, and stylish running sneakers that can double as your everyday shoes for errands, shopping, and more.

So whether you’re excited to continue on your neighborhood jogs or are planning to train for an epic marathon, scroll on for the best running shoes for bad knees.

1. This Sneaker Specially Designed To Protect Your Knees

Brooks’ running shoes are some of the most comfortable and well-built shoes, according to many reviewers, and the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 running shoes are made with extra support to protect your knees. They’re great for long-distance running and cross-training for those with neutral or overpronated strides, and they’re built with the brand’s special GuideRails to keep your feet, knees, and hips aligned. The midsole is designed to provide supreme softness and cushioning, and many reviewers agree that they provide ample arch support. The shoes also boast a quick-drying and comfortable mesh upper material, a wide rubber outsole with a segmented crash pad, and a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). These shoes come in a variety of narrow, wide, and extra-wide sizes, and men’s sizes are also available.

One reviewer wrote: “I keep trying other running shoes and always come back to Brooks Adrenaline. Knee pain doesn't happen when I run in these. Game changer!”

Sizes: 5 — 13, including narrow, wide, and extra-wide sizes | Colors and designs: 38

2. A Pair Of Running Shoes With Gel Cushioning

Many shoppers love the Gel Nimbus 23 running shoes for their shock-absorbing features and comfortable fit, with one fan writing, “I have never had a more comfortable shoe.” They’re built to have improved stability for a balanced stride and feature the brand's FLYTEFOAM Propel midsole material which adds cushioning and a responsive rebound to each foot strike. Gel technology cushioning in the heel provides improved shock absorption, and most reviewers agree that the arch support is great. A mesh upper with a stretchy midfoot panel hugs the foot and provides greater flexibility throughout both short and long runs, and the segmented rubber sole provides excellent traction. Men’s sizing is also available.

One reviewer wrote: “I have been a recreational runner for about 20 years. I have always leaned toward Asics for a running shoe but sometimes go for something a little less expensive. I have noticed that the older I get the more my hips and knees have started to ache after a run. I decided to splurge and buy these to see if they made any difference in my achy bones. Boy, what a difference! I could immediately feel the difference in the cushioning as soon as I put them on. It was like running on a cloud”

Sizes: 5 — 12, including wide sizes | Colors and designs: 18

3. The Running Shoe For Bad Knees Under $50

If you’re looking for ample cushioning and a supportive stride without breaking the bank, consider these Saucony running shoes that have earned thousands of rave reviews, with one fan writing, “They are the best and most supportive shoe you will find.” They feature the brand’s VersaFoam cushioning and grid technology that work together to absorb shock and reduce the impact from each strike, and they have a segmented rubber outsole that flexes for a smooth rebound. These shoes provide ample arch support, according to reviewers, and are great for those with neutral pronation — so they may not provide the support needed for those who over or under-pronate. Men’s sizing is also available.

One reviewer wrote: “I have a very high arch, wide feet, and walk/run at least 150 miles a month. These Cohesion shoes are the best I have found for exercising on gravel roads without my shins, hips or knees hurting from the way the shoes fit.”

Sizes: 5 — 12, including wide sizes | Colors and designs: 14

4. This Pair Of Supportive Shoes For Trail Running

If you prefer to run off-road, consider these ASICS sneakers that have earned over 44,000 ratings, making them some of the most popular trail-running shoes on Amazon. The pair uses an internal heel counter to keep feet and knees aligned and reduces the joint impact with an EVA midsole and rearfoot gel cushioning that absorbs shock and creates a seamless transition through each strike. The brand’s springy insole molds to the shape of your foot and helps improve rebound while reducing moisture and promoting airflow — it’s also removable to accommodate custom orthotics. The upper material is a combination of durable and protective synthetic leather with mesh material, and reversed lugs on the outsole help provide extra traction for steep hills and all types of ground. Men’s sizes are also available.

One reviewer wrote: “These shoes are perfect. They cup my feet just the right way, take away almost all of my pain while exercising as they are supportive in all the right places, and are very comfy with the cushion they have. The bounce back from when my feet hit the pavement is nice on my bad knees, and helps me get into a rhythm quickly.”

Sizes: 5 — 12, including wide sizes | Colors and designs: 18

5. A Popular Pair Made With Impressive Cushioning

While the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 (the first shoe on the list) puts more of an emphasis on support, the popular Ghost 14 is a neutral running shoe that focuses on providing plush cushioning. They boast the brand’s DNA Loft cushioning that provides ultra-softness and responsiveness, as well as a wide rubber outsole with a segmented crash pad for traction and shock absorption. A quick-drying mesh upper material keeps feet cool, and many reviewers agree they provide ample arch support, even for high arches. The shoes have earned a seal of acceptance from APMA, come in both wide and narrow sizes, and there are men’s sizes available.

One reviewer wrote: “I have a ton of knee and feet problems and these shoes have been a life saver. They are the first pair of sneakers I’ve ever owned that keep me pain free when I workout and run. They are also really cute!”

Sizes: 5 — 13, including narrow and wide sizes | Colors and designs: 37

6. A Shoe With Multiple Shock-Absorption Features

The Mizuno Wave Ride 25 is packed with proprietary shock-absorbing features, including a unique midsole plate that increases stability and disperses impact across a broader area and a responsive midsole cushion for shock reduction and durability. Inside, you’ll find an insole made of the brand’s thick foam cushioning, and many reviewers note that it provides ample arch support, with one fan writing, “I have a fairly high arch and these neutral shoes are perfect.” A mesh upper keeps feet cool and comfortable, the rubber sole provides wave-like traction among all surfaces, and there’s men’s sizing available.

One reviewer wrote: “This is my third pair of the “wave”. They give me the arch support and shock absorption I need. Plenty of room in the toe area. The most comfortable shoes I’ve worn. Highly recommend!”

Sizes: 6 — 12, including wide sizes | Colors and designs: 17

7. These Popular Running Shoes With A Springy Midsole

The adidas Ultraboost 22 running shoes provide welcome support and comfort to those with bad knees with the help of their specially designed midsoles and outsoles that provide a high-energy return with each step. The shoes feature a narrow heel fit for greater support and alignment and have ample arch support, according to reviewers. They also have a supportive yet breathable knit upper made from high-performance yarn which contains 50% recycled plastic. Choose from a bunch of colors to suit your running style, and men’s sizing is also available.

One reviewer wrote: “I needed new shoes because I started to have hip and knee pain and couldn't seem to get past a half marathon without feeling like I badly hurt something. I just took these out for 9.5 miles and got home just as comfortable as I left.”

Sizes: 5 — 12 | Colors and designs: 42

8. A Stylish Pair In 30+ Colors

These New Balance kicks don’t just look good, they also provide some serious impact-resistance features and cushioning to make running with bad knees a little easier. They feature the brand’s Fresh Foam cushioning in the midsole to soften each strike, a thick rubber outsole that’s made to withstand many miles, and a specially designed heel that gently hugs the back of your foot for more support. A breathable mesh upper with a short, lace-up design keeps feet cool, and many reviewers enjoy the mid-level arch support.

One reviewer wrote: “Love them! Fit perfectly, very comfy, look great....they have almost eliminated my knee pain from running.”

Sizes: 5 — 12, including wide sizes | Colors and designs: 39


Dr. Gregory Alvarez, DPM, FACFAS, podiatrist at Ankle & Foot Centers of America